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Another camera car sighting? No, this one’s using LIDAR

August 30, 2016


Just the facts: At 9:30 a.m. a black vehicle with a red stripe and an apparent camera mast on its roof was seen turning right, from a westbound lane in the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue, onto a northbound lane of South Granville Street.

The Vehicle bore Alberta license plates and was marked as belonging to an Alberta-based construction crane company called Mammoet.

The masted rig fixed to the roof of the vehicle was clearly a variety of the Lynx mobile mapping system made by an Ontario-based company called Optech (now a wholly-owned subsidiary of California-based conglomerate Teledyne Technologies).


Optech makes survey and mapping systems, including 360-degree cameras but it specialized in Lidar, a mapping and range-finding technology which employs lasers.

It’s not clear from the photos but part of the Optech unit on the roof may have been covered. The unusual Mammoet vehicle may, therefore, not have been collecting data but rather, simply been in transit.

Vancouver tree canopy map from the 2014 Urban Forest Strategy report.—City of Vancouver

LIDAR map of Vancouverès tree canopy from the 2014 Urban Forest Strategy report.—City of Vancouver

In 2014 the City of Vancouver used Lidar for the first time to map tree canopy coverage for the Urban Forest Strategy report (clearly showing that the richest neighbourhoods have the most trees). Lidar is also a key technology behind self-driving cars. Click the images to enlarge them.

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